When Private Choices Affect Public Trust

“It’s his private life; it has nothing to do with being President.”  This was the mantra my liberal friends chanted when President Clinton was involved with Monica Lewinsky in our House – the White House.

The choice to engage in risky behavior is a reflection on one’s character, on one’s ability to make decisions. My beliefs then remain the same today.  How does one’s ability to make choices in his private life not affect his ability to make decisions in his public life?  A person would have to have a split personality to say one action doesn’t affect the other.

If you’re selling shoes at Foot Locker and you’re married and carrying on with someone on the side, I would agree, your infidelity does not impact on your job of selling shoes.

But when you’re the most powerful man in the world and you choose to conduct yourself in such a manner, you open yourself up to all kinds of trouble, the least of which is blackmail.

Should we expect more from our elected officials?  Should we settle for men who don’t have impulse control and act out in whatever manner they choose and subject themselves and our country to all sorts of security risks?  Do we want our politicians to be driven by compulsions which overcome their reason and logic?

This week, of course, Rep. Anthony Weiner, targeted to be the next Mayor of New York City in 2013, finally admitted he sent the photo of his underwear-clad groin to a young woman, young enough to be his daughter, a 21-year old Seattle college student after a week of playing word games with the media.  When he insisted his Twitter account was hacked but refused to file a police report or request a federal investigation into the matter, I knew then that he did it.

And I was right.  For ten days, he lied to all of us.  Can we believe anything he says now?

It’s easy to say the guy’s an idiot.  What was he thinking?  Well, the guy isn’t an idiot.  He’s a college graduate, served on the New York City Council, and has been in the House of Representatives since 1998.  His actions may be idiotic, but his pathology is far more concerning.

I’m not a psychologist so I don’t have the answers.  I’ve read it’s all about the game, the risk, the power, addiction, a personality flaw, the arrogance that one won’t get caught, the thinking that one is above the law.  A reasonable person, at first glance, would try and understand this inexplicable behavior and think maybe Weiner’s Twitter account was hacked because it just made no sense that this politically savvy, major voice for the Democrats, could be so self-destructive.

But his demons controlled him and he followed in the footsteps of many others who’ve succumbed to similar temptations.  I doubt that he’ll survive politically.

This is the last thing the Democrats want or need and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly Nancy Pelosi moves on the Congressional investigation.  She certainly hasn’t forced his resignation and clearly hasn’t “drained the swamp” of ethical violators as she promised back in 2006 now that it involves one of her own.

I guess Weiner didn’t bother to read former Clinton advisor and my favorite liberal, Lanny J. Davis’ book, “Truth to Tell:  Tell It Early, Tell It All, Tell It Yourself.”  Instead he waited over a week, and probably made his public confession because Andrew Breitbart, who originally broke the story and who was accused of being the hacker by the left-wing media, received photographs, chats and emails from yet another woman who’s claiming an inappropriate online relationship with the Congressman.

Is it poor judgment, impulse control, power, addiction or arrogance?  I haven’t a clue but, in my opinion, when you’ve been elected to office, your actions not only affect you and your family, but the Office you hold, your constituents, and your Nation.

I’ll bet money there’s at least one other person in Congress right now doing something illegal/illicit/immoral that we haven’t heard about yet.  He, too, probably thinks he won’t get caught.  Think again, Gumby, and remember, Weiner, Clinton, Craig, Sanford, Schwarzenegger, Edwards, Massa, Foley, and Lee, to name a few.  It’s only a matter of time.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Ron

    Trying to figure out what makes a person like Representative Anthony Weiner do what he did is useless. Most of us would never do it and if caught would be so embarassed we would resign. On the other hand, I do not think private choices always affect public lives. Dwight Eisenhower probably had an affair during WWII and it did not affect him as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces. John Kennedy had numerous affairs. One of my favorite founders, Thomas Jefferson, probably fathered at least one child with a slave and kept slaves his entire life. The problem I have with Representative Weiner is that he is not willing to accept the consequences of the public disclosure of his actions. As a conservative, the only good thing is that he has probably lost all effectiveness as a legislator.

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      Thanks, Ron, for your thoughts. But for me, understanding why Congressman Weiner did what he did is, for me, THE story. I’m far more interested in knowing why a person, so politically savvy, would engage in such risky behavior and put his life, both private and public, in self-destruct mode. Whether his marriage/career is over is not the point. The pathology behind his actions is what’s most fascinating to me.

  • Nancye

    When someone proves he’s a jerk and a liar in his private life, how can we expect said person to legislate laws in our Congress for us to abide by. Bye, bye, Weiner.

  • JDO

    If you cannot trust a person to be faithful to their spouse (and family), how can you possibly trust them with anything else?

  • Roger Ward

    As usual, Leona, your comments are on point!

    When you choose to become an entertainment star, you give up the right to privacy. In the same way, when you enter the world of politics and seek the public’s support, you give up the expectation that you can pursue a life of prurient interest.

    Wiener is toast …. and good riddance!

  • chief98110

    My juvenile side wants to say, “what a weenie” but my adult side wants to analyze his behavior. I once represented a young father who eventually got custody of his two young daughters but only after a long court process and concerns about his hobby of making obscene phone calls, usually 500 a month!
    Psychological evaluations and therapy did have a positive outcome and all ended well. But, the big question was why? I asked him this at the end of our case and he said because he could and he saw no down side to his behavior until the custody battle.
    The issue is do negative actions affect our lives and our families when no one is aware of our destructive behavior. Yes they do.
    I remember an old saying, “what would your mother say if you told her what you were doing and would she be proud of you”.
    I give this advise to my clients once they are out of danger , have a plan for yourself so when the demons come you don’t fall back to your old destructive ways. Few of us can ignore all temptation but we can avoid it and surround ourselves with good people and think about how our actions would be viewed by “mom”.

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      Thanks, Chief for your comments. Your reference to “mom” reminds me of the four questions Mother Angelica, my go-to gal for all things Catholic, suggests we use when making any decision, large or small: Would my decision please God? Would it please my family? Would it please my friends? Would it please my community?

  • David Walker

    Well said Leona, well said. Stupidity and arrogance know no political party. If one’s moral character and ones personal trait’s of honesty, integrity, discipline and trust are not meaningful to voters who choose their leaders, they will continue to support people like Wiener, Rangel and many others that have been caught up in scandals of their own making and are still in the Institutions of Government. What I don’t get as well are these voters are willing to surrender their freedom and individual liberty and that of their family and children and grandchildren to the likes of these that have the power to craft laws over all of us.